Monday, July 21, 2014

Another Update In Lieu Of Content, Plus Wire Trolls

I didn't get any character classes finished this week, so instead you get this.

The main thing I've gotten done lately is quite a bit of work done on the Fantasy Wargaming retroclone and revision, and somewhat less work done on the Top Secret retroclone. For the former, I've finished the draft of the character creation chapter and am well into the chapter on magic. For the latter, character creation is pretty much finished and I've worked some on action resolution, mainly on the "contacts" system by which characters can acquire information and services in exchange for bribes, threats, or seductions, among other techniques.

I've been learning a bit more about the Middle Sea world, but not enough to make a post of its own yet. I'll get there.

I'm trying to decide if I should go with presenting the Fantasy Wargaming revision as a Dark Ages/Medieval setting, as it was originally, or if I should present an original setting. The advantage of an original setting would be getting to avoid the criticism leveled at the former of "giving stats for Jesus" (which, while technically true, wasn't really as big a deal as the critics made out, since the stats given were effectively infinite - God wasn't intended for use as a monster you can kill). The disadvantage, of course, is that the idea of a straight Dark Age/Medieval European setting is a compelling one, and one around which many of the mechanics are based. I am really leaning toward keeping it in Europe, at least as a basis. Perhaps I can work up another setting as a supplement, if any demand exists. Maybe the Middle Sea world could be dual-statted for AD&D and FW/whatever I end up naming it. There would have to be a lot of work to do so, though, as it would require, at the very least, an entire chapter just on the religions of the Middle Sea: the Tetradic Church, the Fatalist Church, the Radiant Church, the Denialists (who might need their own, new magic system, though it would actually be a modification of the standard one), and polytheists of several varieties (Kurai, Davrai, and Daling, at the very least), plus demon-worship.

I'm having to revisit the matter of setting with the Top Secret retroclone as well. In initial feedback, I heard from people that they'd prefer to see it set in the Cold War era of the late '70s/early '80s, just as the original was. However, since then, Merle Rasmussen has released his first TS adventure in decades, and it is set in the present world of conflicts with terrorist groups and rogue states. I could also provide information to cover the multiple eras, but that would take up quite a bit of space.

OK, after all that, you deserve something you can use, so as a Joesky Tax here are some stats for Wire Trolls (thanks go to Zak S for pointing out the picture, which coalesced some previously inchoate ideas that I had running around in my head):

Wire Troll


Frequency: Very Rare
No. Appearing: 1
Armor Class: 4
Move: 6"
Hit Dice: 6+1
% in Lair: 10%
Treasure Type: E
No. of Attacks: 2
Damage/Attack: 1-12/1-12
Special Attacks: Wires, Puppets
Special Defenses: Regeneration, Puppets
Magic Resistance: Standard
Intelligence: Average
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Size: L (8' tall)
Psionic Ability: Nil
     Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
Experience: 825xp + 8xp/hp

The wire troll is a terrifying creature that wanders the wastes, using its puppets to forage for food and water, as well as to protect itself from attackers. They rely on the senses of the puppets, as their own are dim and weak.

While a wire troll can attack with its two great, maul-like hands, it prefers to send puppets to do its attacking for it. Those are, after all, expendable in the eyes of the wire troll. It will repair damage to its own body at the rate of 2 hit points per melee round, which will include severed parts coming back to the main body, or even forming an entirely new wire troll if the main body is destroyed by fire or acid, taking 3-18 melee rounds to do so.

The most feared attack of the wire troll is the sending out of wires, 1d4 per melee round, with a maximum of one per target per round. Each of these acts as a missile weapon, with a range of 10". If a wire hits, the target must make a saving throw (against petrification) or the wire embeds itself and attaches to the target's nervous system. At this point, the wire troll gains complete control and can manipulate the target to do anything the wire troll desires. Such puppets must remain within 10" of the wire troll at all times. A wire troll can never have more than 12 puppets at a time, and cannot voluntarily release any puppets. Puppets will retain all abilities, hit points, and so forth, except that no spellcasting abilities or divinely granted abilities will remain while a puppet. A wire troll cannot make a puppet out of a creature larger than itself.

Since the wires remain as a connection, it is obvious when a puppet is attached to a wire troll. The wire can be targeted by a sharp weapon to attempt to cut it, requiring a roll "to hit" against Armor Class 0, followed by a damage roll of at least 5 hit points of damage. Puppets released in such a fashion must make a System Shock survival roll, and will be disoriented and stunned for 1d6 melee rounds even if they succeed. If the wire troll can be killed, all of its puppets will be released without injury.

When encountered, a wire troll will have 2d6 puppets, of the following types:

1) human*
2) elf**
3) dwarf***
4) goblin
5) orc
6) gnoll
7) centaur
8) ogre
9) roll on random encounter chart
10) DM choice

*humans have a 10% chance of having a character class. Roll as per henchmen (DMG, p. 35).
**elves have a 20% chance of having a character class, as above.
***dwarves have a 15% chance of having a character class, as above.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

D12 Random Table - What Does The Mage Use For Protection?



Still feeling the heat, but it's getting better. Have a random table:


1 - A magic circle with crabbed writing around the edge

2 - An amulet carved from a star sapphire, depicting a rooster-headed figure with serpents for legs

3 - A small, sealed bottle filled with urine and iron nails

4 - A crucifix

5 - A small box containing magical writing on paper, fastened to the back of his hand with ribbon arranged in a specific pattern

6 - A human tooth that once belonged to a Saint

7 - A cockatrice bezoar set in a silver cage and hanging on a silver chain

8 - A union suit embroidered with magical symbols

9 - A dog skull engraved with secret signs

10 - A wooden disk with a concave surface, painted black with a red pentagram and mystic writing in white

11 - A circular, concave silver mirror set in a wooden triangle

12 - Roll twice on this table

Friday, July 18, 2014

Goth of the Week


A model who goes by the name of Forbudt. I really like this look, though it's not my own style.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Polytheism And Religion In Games

The heat wave is continuing here, though things are getting better. I haven’t done any work on the blog at all, so there’s a good chance I won’t have the Middle Sea Witch class done by Monday. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll work on the Bullrider instead.

But I’m not here to talk about that. I’m here to talk about polytheism in game worlds.

Most people think that polytheism is just like monotheistic religion. However, there are many characteristics of polytheistic religion that make it completely distinct from the latter. For one, there is no exclusivity. That should seem obvious, but people designing games tend to forget that and make their “polytheistic” cultures look like a whole lot of competing monotheisms, or at least henotheisms (henotheism is the practice of acknowledging that there may be other gods, but worshiping/venerating only one). This becomes particularly noticeable in those settings where gods generate power through the number of their followers, and so the competition for worshipers ends up being fierce.

Now, it has been rightly pointed out that in polytheistic cultures, there are priests or other religious specialists who focus strongly on just one god. This does not, however, change the fact that the general body of the people give honor to any number of gods, and even the religious specialists are known to look to other gods when the need or desire arises. Also, there is a marked tendency in most games for a priest specialist to pick the “strongest” god, as the powers that the priest will be able to wield will be determined by their god. This flies in the face of the historical fact that there have always been priests who focus on even the smallest gods – or even non-god beings like nymphs.

To illustrate the point, let’s look at how various games handle religion, whether well or poorly.

First up, the basic D&D approach (also used by most D&D-like games) is to have a Cleric class which represents the main way to approach the gods. In some versions, other characters are allowed a slight chance of appealing to the gods by invoking their name and hoping for a good die roll to get Divine Intervention. The second mechanic there goes a long way toward alleviating the problem, but limiting the majority of divine appeals to a specialist class is something that is particularly a characteristic of monotheistic religions. A good rule that would help even more than the Divine Intervention chance is to incorporate the ability to get one-time bonuses for a character of any class who makes an offering to the god at their shrines, temples, or whatever. For instance, by buying and sacrificing a sheep at the temple of Fortuna (with the aid of the priests of the temple, of course), the character might be given one reroll (must take the second roll) to use at any time in the future. Or whatever, maybe even one-use spells of an appropriate level to the character (and certainly the bonuses carried at one time should be limited by character level, perhaps one bonus per level). This should probably require tracking the piety of the character with regard to that god – those who blaspheme Fortuna shouldn’t get her bonuses without making some sort of appropriate penances. There was a good method of tracking such piety in the old FGU game Lands of Adventure. Of course, now that we’re tracking piety in relation to each god, we should work that into the system somehow, but I’m not here to write up an entire method.

Speaking of Lands of Adventure, religion in that game is handled much like it is in D&D, where characters choose one god from whom they get most of their divine powers, leading to a henotheistic system rather than a polytheistic one.

Next, we find RuneQuest (and, to an extent, HeroQuest). In that game, characters can become Initiates of various Cults, each dedicated to a deity. Even non-Initiates (called Lay Members, though Lay Members still have to undergo a minor initiation – they just don’t have to sacrifice POW to get their initiation) can often gain some bonus from the Cult. This is a very good approach, but leaves out the possibilities, common in historical polytheisms, of approaching gods one has not yet had a chance to become acquainted with, not to mention the fact that, normally, becoming a Lay Member should give one access to all of the gods of the culture. Still, RQ is a great way to approach polytheist religion, and I recommend it. Not surprising, really, as the designer of the original RQ setting, Glorantha, is an active and practicing polytheist himself.

In Chivalry & Sorcery, religion is dealt with cursorily, by specifying religious practitioners and giving them powers, pretty much ignoring the gods themselves. Eh, it works, but has all of the problems present in the D&D system. At least by avoiding naming particular gods and sticking to the social roles (“Priest”, “Druid”, “Shaman”, or whatever), the C&S system avoids the problems of seeming to be a henotheistic semi-polytheism.

GURPS Voodoo takes a slightly different tack, by ignoring the religion parts, but treating the gods for what they can do. Anyone can approach any god (or “Loa”, more properly spelled “Lwa”) and ask for assistance (which is generally granted by the dispatch of messengers – what Christianity and some other religions might call Angels – to provide assistance). In some cases, that process is treated generically, as a regular use of magic. In other cases, it involves the specific summoning of Manifestations (the aforementioned messengers). Some characters have an entourage of spirit helpers. Finally, certain characters, called “Spirit Warriors”, are given the ability to call on the powers of the god (or Lwa) and manifest them in their own body. This is a really good system.

An obscure game (which I plan to review eventually) is Legendary Lives. This game handles religion well enough, but no better, by giving characters a choice (or roll) of religion based on their culture. This system is only added in the supplement, Societies Sourcebook, though. Every character is given a Devotion score, which acts as a skill in relation to religious powers. The details of what Devotion does vary by religion. Unfortunately, the game falls into the D&D trap of treating individual gods as religions in themselves.

Pendragon is one of the better treatments of religion in gaming, though it avoids immersing players in the role of religion. Characters have five Personality Traits, known as Religious Traits, that are related to their religion, and if those Traits are kept at a high enough level the character gains special bonuses, varying by religion. Beyond that, religion is mainly assumed to be a strong background factor. Unlike Fantasy Wargaming, to choose one example (see below), the characters are given no reason to pursue religious ceremonies (except for the relatively minor effect of being a requisite for the Pious Personality Trait – which is actually a hindrance to Saxon Heathens, for whom the opposing Trait, Worldly, is one of their Religious Traits).

Hârnmaster allows characters to gain piety points that they can spend in exchange for miraculous interventions. The religion system of Hârn resembles the normal henotheism of most games, though. It could perhaps be fixed if characters were allowed to accumulate piety in regard to all of the gods involved, but that might end up being too complex to handle easily in the game.

Unknown Armies only tangentially deals with religion, and mostly from the point of view espoused by Chaos Magick. Characters may pursue becoming an Avatar of a particular Archetype. Archetypes are the game’s equivalent to gods, and the more that a character manifests that Archetype by emulating it, the more of that Archetype’s powers can be expressed by the character. A good system for the setting and ones that use similar assumptions, but not one that fits most historical religions.

Speaking of modern-day/near-future games, Shadowrun has gods of a sort, but they are relegated to a secondary role. The totems in that system factor in as “gods” after a fashion. I wonder if it would be possible to make actual gods using that template? I suspect that it would end up looking very much like D&D-style henotheism, though.

Whatever other merits or flaws it might have, Dogs in the Vineyard treats its religion very well. However, it is focused on one specific sort of religion, in which there is a religion of the Community, and forces outside of that religion that attempt to destroy the Community. Like real-world Mormonism, the religion of DitV tries to account for the polytheistic peoples living around them, and does so only moderately well. Certainly, the religion system in DitV could be adapted to other monotheistic religions, or even the henotheistic ones of most D&D games.


There are other games with religious systems, such as The Riddle of Steel, The Burning Wheel, Wyrd is Bond, and so on, but they are minor and don’t really fit into historical religious beliefs, in my opinion, no matter how good they may be as games. They generally end up appearing much like D&D-style henotheism.

My favorite approach, though, is that in Fantasy Wargaming. In that game, both monotheistic and polytheistic religions are covered (the former primarily by Christianity and Satanism, the latter by Norse religion), and the system manages both well. Characters in that game are given a “religious rank”, which is not directly tied to the Religion level (FW uses a system where every character has three levels: Combat/Adventuring, Magic, and Religion, corresponding to the original three classes in published D&D, with characters generally starting at level zero in each). For Christians, this is either as Lay Clergy at the lower ends of the scale, Ordained Clergy, Monks, or Friars (or Religious Knights), with most characters having no religious rank at all. Satanists are all given a minimum rank, and there is no particular process of Ordination, so that characters may rise in the Devil’s hierarchy on their merits. Norse pagans have two main tracks – either as Priests or as Laity. Priests have a higher minimum/starting religious rank, but Lay members are actually capable of gaining a higher religious rank than Priests (although only if they can manage to become King or Queen)! For the most part, religious powers mainly consist of Ceremonies, which dedicate Mana (magical power) to the god or gods being worshiped and provide a bonus to morale for a while and a chance of Inspiration to the participants, which gives various bonuses, along with other benefits depending on the Ceremony. Anyone may appeal to higher (or lower) powers for a Miracle, which is resolved by the invoked power using the methods of the magic system to cause changes in the world (or, in a few cases such as Resurrection of the dead, the magic system is used in a modified form). Characters can have “patrons”, which gives the character a bonus in appealing to that power (the Norse ones usually are given at birth, and their patron’s name is typically incorporated into their personal name). There is no method given in FW for changing patrons during the game, which is something I will add in my rewrite of the system. Another aspect that helps the system work well is the concept of “Intervention”, whereby an appeal is made to one power who is asked to Intervene with another power. This has benefits in the matter of patronage mentioned, but also because some powers are more difficult to appeal to than others. In the Norse religion, the personal feelings and relationships of various powers affects this chance of Intervention, as well, so that, for instance, the wife of a god will have a better chance of Intervention with that god, while two gods who hate each other (Loki and Heimdall, for instance) reduce the chance of successful Intervention. Finally, each power has areas of Favor and Disfavor, which affects the likelihood of the power responding to the appeal. Altogether, this system became the first to incorporate the personalities of the powers into the game system in a meaningful way. So, this system included both the religious (characters can attend or perform Mass, for example) and the miraculous (through the process of appeals) into one system. Sometimes both are incorporated, such as the rites of Benediction and Malediction. The primary weakness of the FW system in regard to religion is the handling of “negative” piety, which is always assumed to place one in communication with the Devil, even if a Norse pagan. I hope to address this problem in my revision of the game.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Outdoorsman

It's Monday, so that means it's time for another class for AD&D1E.

The Outdoorsman

Some people spend a lot of time wandering the wilderness. The most elite become Rangers, but a large number just learn to live there without learning magic and druidry. Those types become Outdoorsmen, sometimes called Hunters or Scouts.

Humans, half-elves, and half-orcs are the most common outdoorsmen, but there are a few halflings who wander the wilderness as well. Halflings are limited to 5th level as outdoorsmen, while half-orcs can only reach the 7th. Half-elves can rise as high as 10th if their strength is 18 or higher, 9th with a strength of 17, or 8th level with a lower strength. An outdoorsman requires a minimum score of 12 in strength, dexterity, and constitution, and an intelligence of 10. If an outdoorsman has a score of 13 or higher in all of strength, intelligence, and dexterity, they gain a +10% bonus to experience. Outdoorsmen may be of any alignment, though there is a marked tendency for them to not be of Lawful alignments.

Outdoorsmen fight using the Cleric table. They may use any weapon less than 5’ in length and any armor except plate, splint, and banded mail. They may not use great helms or large shields. Outdoorsmen start with 2 weapon proficiencies (at least one of which must be a missile weapon) and gain another every 4th level. They suffer a penalty of -3 when using weapons with which they are not proficient.

A new outdoorsman character starts with 3d6×10 gold pieces in money and goods (most will have a collection of valuable furs and such rather than any coins), and human outdoorsmen will begin at age 14+1d4 years old. (Other races, I’m not sure yet. Make something up that seems reasonable.)

Experience Points
Level
Hit Dice (d8)
Level Title
Cover Tracks
0-1,800
1
1
Wayfinder
50%
1,801-3,600
2
2
Tracker
53%
3,601-7,500
3
3
Scout
56%
7,501-15,000
4
4
Trapper
59%
15,001-30,000
5
5
Hunter
62%
30,001-60,000
6
6
Guide
65%
60,001-120,000
7
7
Mountain Man
68%
120,001-220,000
8
8
Survivalist
71%
220,001-350,000
9
9
Outdoorsman
74%
350,001-500,000
10
9+2
Outdoorsman (10th)
77%
500,001-650,000
11
9+4
Outdoorsman (11th)
80%
650,001-850,000
12
9+6
Outdoorsman (12th)
83%

Outdoorsmen require 225,000 experience points per level after the 12th. They gain 2 hit points per level after the 9th. Cover Tracks percentage increases 3% per level.

Outdoorsmen have several special abilities (note that bonuses and penalties for thief-like abilities due to race, dexterity, armor worn, and so forth are the same as for thieves):

1. Outdoorsmen can climb cliffs and trees at the same chance as a thief of equal level can climb walls. The ability to climb cliffs also allows the outdoorsman to attempt to climb sheer walls.

2. They may hide in natural terrain using camouflage techniques at the same chance as a thief of equal level can hide in shadows.

3. Outdoorsmen may set, find, and remove traps in a natural environment at the same chance as a thief of equal level has to find and remove traps. This includes pits, snares, and the like, but does not include mechanical traps in buildings or in dungeons.

4. Outdoorsmen may attempt to cover tracks. This ability has an effect similar to the 1st level druid spell pass without trace, but is not magical in nature. An outdoorsman making use of this ability can only move at half speed, and the chance of success is listed on the table above. The ability can only affect the person using it, so an outdoorsman may not cover the tracks of others in the party. To use this ability to confound creatures that track by scent is more difficult, and requires that the outdoorsman be at least 5th level. If the outdoorsman is of appropriate level, then the check against cover tracks when used to defeat scent-based tracking is rolled at -25%.

5. Outdoorsmen surprise opponents on 1-3 on a d6, and are only surprised on a 1.

6. Outdoorsmen may track as a Ranger, but the base chance of success is 75% and outdoorsmen may not attempt to track indoors or underground.

7. When an outdoorsman is evading pursuit in an outdoor environment, and the outdoorsman is not already covering tracks, the chance to evade is increased by +10%.

8. When traveling overland, the outdoorsman may take 1d6 hours out of travel time to hunt. This requires a roll “to hit” using a missile weapon against AC10. Success provides 1d6 meals worth of standard rations (one day worth of food for one person is 3 meals).

Outdoorsmen, similar to Rangers, only keep what they can carry on themselves, a mount, and at most one baggage animal. They will never load their mount past the “unencumbered” load limit. Outdoorsmen do not gain any special benefits from building a castle or other stronghold.

(Based loosely on the Bandit class in Dragon magazine #63.)

Since the Mountebank and Bard classes in the Middle Sea world are taken directly from Adventures Dark and Deep or A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore without significant modification, I won't be presenting them here (I could, since they are designated as Open Content, but why do it?). That just leaves the Witch and possibly the Beastmaster (still thinking on whether there are any examples of the latter in the Middle Sea world). After those, I'll probably start presenting various character classes that just interest me, but which aren't present in the Middle Sea world. Or maybe I'll just end the series. Who knows? There's also a possibility that I will present some other classes before I finish the Witch of the Middle Sea world. I should eventually work up the Bullriders of the Davrai, so that's a possibility. As well, the Corsairs of Apalach Isle might have a separate character class associated with them, or they might just be regular sailing Fighters and Magic-Users. I don't know yet - they are pretty far from the campaign starting area, so I haven't really felt the need to know.

Outside of character classes as such, I want to cover the airships of the Twelve Kingdoms that lie to the east, a couple of which can be found in the city-states of the sorcerer-kings. I also need to work up the characteristics of the main ship types that can be found sailing around the Middle Sea, the Western Coast, and the Long Sea.

I also need to spend some time one of these days learning how to use one or the other of these Virtual Tabletops. Does anyone have any recommendations for which works best for AD&D 1E? Keep in mind that my poor little laptop is pretty old (2GB, 1.73GHz Pentium M), so that might affect your recommendations.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Feeling Stupid, Plus Random Babble

Random babblings, not unlike these
I was going to post some more in the series about what I'd like to see in a tabletop roleplaying game, but it is too hot and humid to think or move. We don't have air conditioning here, mainly because that isn't a priority in our normal climate.

Anyway, I've been seeing some smart stuff by people about demographics that touches on and in many ways improves upon the material I'd been writing here. Rick Stump over at Don't Split The Party started on Wednesday with a really good article titled "Peasants, Nobles, Mages, Normals, and Heroes - How Many NPCs have Levels?", then followed that up with "Just How Big is your Army?" and "Economics of Having Levels". Now, Matt Jackson of msjx has weighed in with a piece titled "Low level characters, and the effects on play" that is pretty much a must-read for anyone playing a D&D-like game, I think.

You're probably aware that there has been some stupidity going on about the new D&D version because some people don't like two names (out of eight!) listed as "Additional Consultation provided by". As time has gone on, too, it's been conclusively shown that the complaints leveled by those people against those two names have been a tissue of lies and fabrication. There are plenty of reasons to dislike one or the other of them, sure - I'm none too fond of one of them as a human being, though I think that the other one is particularly smart and funny, and I read both because they are both of them smart - but to manufacture insane accusations because a person doesn't like them? And then to try to smear WotC with that? Those people doing the manufacturing of calumnies are human waste. And that is the end of my involvement with that topic on this blog.

Does anyone have any good resources (not gaming ones) on the characteristics of sailing ships and galleys? I'm interested to see what actual speeds of travel and cargo capacities were like for those, especially from the era of the 13th to 16th centuries, all the way up to the beginning of the 17th. I wouldn't mind information on the Viking Age Scandinavian vessels, either. Surprisingly, there are few hard numbers in my books on pirates (Rogoziński doesn't have much of anything outside of some scattered information on cargo capacities, for example, and neither does Cordingly; the others tend to focus on personalities or, like Peter Lamborn Wilson, the economics and politics of locations).

I am coming along with the revision/retroclone of Fantasy Wargaming. Part of that process has me looking at source materials, so I've been re-reading old magical Grimoires and examining the various names and functions of demons. Those guys got a lot of that stuff pretty much spot-on, though they abridged their sources quite a lot (perhaps not surprisingly, as they had limited space). Since I'm planning to just dump the background that takes up about half the book (there are plenty of resources on the Middle Ages available, and I'll just point people toward those), I'm going to have a lot of extra space available to fill those abridged gaps. For those interested in such things, I plan on sticking mainly to the Solomonic Grimoires, which seem to be the main source for the original game, plus the Grimoirium Verum and Clm 849 "The Munich Handbook of Necromancy". There are a ton of named spirits in that last, though, many of whom are not given any real information outside of their names, so I will almost certainly abridge that one greatly.

Speaking of that, does anyone know a good listing of Saints that were known in the period 500CE-1500CE or so? Concentrating on the Hundred Years' War period would be really good (so, no Joan of Arc, since she wasn't sanctified until the 20th century). I like the FW list, but I want to check their information and maybe expand it a little.

One plan I have is to add the pantheons of the Welsh/British Celts, the Gaels, and the Slavic peoples. All of those were extant at least during part of FW's nominal period, and so I think that they should be dealt with to some extent. I have useful resources for those already. I wonder how best to approach dvoverie (the Slavic practice of being both Christian and pagan; it means "two faiths") in FW's rules? Probably just like it does for sorcery: invoking non-Christian gods is a Sin of whatever magnitude (probably the same as for invoking demons), and stick with the Christian Virtue/Sin templates for those trying to hold two faiths.

In my ideal game, of course, all of this Piety stuff is simplified down considerably. I'll get around to talking about that soon enough.

I haven't done any work on the Top Secret retroclone in the past couple of weeks. I need to pick that one back up, too.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

State Of The Faoladh

Normally, today would be the day of the week that I post more factoids about the Middle Sea world, but I don't have enough currently to make a full post. I've been distracted by the World Cup and a couple of other projects.

First, I am actively writing a revision/retroclone of Fantasy Wargaming, which I still say has the potential of being one of the better games to come from the late '70s/early '80s era. It's a combination of writing and a back-and-forth discussion process with a collaborator, who is able to keep me from forgetting how awesome FW really is and flying off into a massive redesign.

In between that, I am also still slogging away at a Top Secret retroclone. I kinda wish that I'd already finished this, because of the fourth issue of Gygax magazine (which includes a new TS mission from Merle Rasmussen), but I only have myself to blame for that.

I would like to get back to writing a game using the Trait System that I designed a few years back (and which has seen some word-of-mouth success, albeit mainly in the storygame crowd, and after some changes from my original intent). I think that fantasy Elizabethan era is what it would work best for, and was what I had in mind when I originally worked out the basics, plus I just really like the idea of the era and setting. I've gotten a bit down in electrons for it, but it's been set aside for the moment.

I was reminded recently that I'd really like to see a setting of occult conspiracy in the late 18th century (the Enlightenment era of revolution). Mainly, I'd like to play in such a setting. The LotFP default assumptions come pretty close to that, but I don't know, it seems more Thirty Years' War rather than American Revolution.

I've been considering the points and counterpoints in the "rewards for roleplaying" debate that is currently going on. I tend toward the side that says it is actively detrimental to roleplaying at the table, but I want to address the issue with more nuance, since that simple argument doesn't really cover my full impression of the concept. I've been poking at an article for the blog on the matter, but it isn't really coming together yet.

I'm nearly ready to give up on finding a venue to run games face to face here (in my house is not an option). I am considering running online, but I have the small problem that I don't want to take the time to learn how to set up a virtual tabletop, and I'm not sure my poor antique laptop could take it and G+ Hangouts at the same time, anyway. Maybe I will still be able to find a workable option for gaming locally. Maybe I should start emailing people on Nearbygamers or whatever.

So, here's a question for you all: what settings or eras do you think would be a lot of fun to play in, but haven't seen much (or any) coverage in games to date? Post-oil? Neolithic fantasy? Gunboat diplomacy China? WWI Knights of the Air? Max Headroom Cyberpunk?

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Psionicist

Another new optional class for AD&D 1E.

The Psionicist

A psionicist is a person who dedicates their development to the powers of the mind. Not everyone has the psychic gift to the extent necessary to the operations of the psionicist class. A psionicist must have a constitution score of 9 or more in order to withstand the ascetic practices necessary to the development of psionic gifts. In addition, a psionicist must have a score of 16 or more in at least one of intelligence, wisdom, or charisma, and none of those scores may be less than 10. Due to the intensive and extended training necessary to develop psionic powers, roll 2d8 and add 24 to determine the psionicist’s starting age. An important characteristic for psionicists is called the “IWC”. This is the average of the character’s intelligence, wisdom, and charisma scores, rounded to the nearest tenth of a point. A psionicist gains a bonus of +10% to earned experience if the IWC average is 16.0 or greater.

Table I: Experience Chart

Experience Points
Level
Hit Dice (d4)
Level Title
0-2,500
1
1
Beginner
2,501-5,000
2
2
Psychic
5,001-10,000
3
3
Medium
10,001-20,000
4
4
Adept
20,001-40,000
5
5
Guide
40,001-80,000
6
6
Sub-Warden
80,001-150,000
7
7
Warden
150,001-250,000
8
8
Trainer
250,001-500,000
9
9
Director
500,001-1,000,000
10
10
Sub-Master
1,000,001-1,500,000
11
11
Master
1,500,001-2,000,000
12
11+1
Grand Master
2,000,001-2,500,000
13
11+2
Grand Master (13th)
2,500,001-3,000,000
14
11+3
Grand Master (14th)
3,000,001-3,500,000
15
11+4
Grand Master (15th)
3,500,001-4,000,000
16
11+5
Grand Master (16th)
4,000,001-4,500,000
17
11+6
Grand Master (17th)
4,500,001-5,000,000
18
11+7
Grand Master (18th)
5,000,001-6,000,000
19
11+8
Grand Master (19th)
6,000,001+
20
11+9
Grand Master (20th)


Table II: Abilities

Level
Ability Multiplier
Modes
Disciplines
Attack
Defense
Minor
Major
Grand
1
10
0
1
1
0
0
2
11
1
1
2
0
0
3
12
1
2
3
0
0
4
13
2
2
4
0
0
5
14
2
3
4
1
0
6
15
3
3
5
1
0
7
16
3
4
5
2
0
8
17
4
4
6
2
0
9
18
4
5
6
3
0
10
19
5
5
7
3
0
11
20
5
5
7
4
0
12
21
5
5
7
4
1*
13
21
5
5
8
4
1
14
21
5
5
8
5
1
15
21
5
5
8
5
2
16
21
5
5
9
5
2
17
21
5
5
9
6
2
18
21
5
5
10
6
2
19
21
5
5
10
7
2
20
21
5
5
10
7
3

*IWC average must be at least 16.0 in order to acquire any Grand Arts.

To determine the psionicist’s base Psionic Strength, multiply the IWC average by the Ability Multiplier from Table II. As usual, half of this is Attack Strength and half Defense Strength. For example, a psionicist with an intelligence of 12, a wisdom of 11, and a charisma of 16 has an IWC average of (39/3=) 13.0. At level 1, that psionicist would have (13.0×10=) 130 Psionic Strength Points, of which 65 would be Attack Strength and 65 Defense Strength.

The first Psionic Combat Mode that the psionicist will gain is always Mind Blank. After that, the player may choose Attack and Defense Modes freely as the psionicist gains in level, according to Table II’s schedule of Attack and Defense Modes. In addition, the player may freely choose Disciplines received according to the progression on Table II, and may choose from the expanded psionics Disciplines listed below as well. Note that the character may not choose any Grand Arts unless the character’s IWC average is at least 16.0, and does not gain any compensation if a Grand Art is called for at a particular level increase and the character cannot take such Arts. Disciplines begin at level 1 when acquired, and each increases by 1 level for each level the psionicist gains thereafter.

Expansions to Psionic Disciplines (after the cut)